FEC/RFE History 1949-1973

March 17, 1949
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April 29, 1949

FEC - Certificate of Incorporation filed under the name “Committee for Free Europe”


May 15, 1949

FEC – Filed name change “National Committee For Free Europe” (NCFE)


June 2, 1949

FEC – Three operating committees inside NCFE were discussed


June 16, 1949

FEC – The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors (EC) was formed [1]


July 7, 1949

FEC – The powers of EC were established “to exercise the powers of the Board when the Board is not in session”

[1] Not to be confused with “Executive Committee,” the rubric used after 1959 to refer to the CIA (Comment by Ross Johnson)

*All pictures here and further are taken from the FEC/RFE Blinken OSA Collection. 

June 2, 1949
1960 fec history


January 1, 1950

FEC - Fundraising Committee Formed (Dulles, Clay, Poole)


March 16, 1950

FEC – Robert Lang sent to Europe to purchase equipment and organize foreign personnel for the creation of the radio [1]


April 3,1950

FEC – A National Council Division (NCD) was formed to conduct relations with the National Committees, exile individuals, and organizations

FEC – Budget for Radio increased to cover the cost of three shortwave transmitters


April 11, 1950

FEC – Filed name change for “National Committee for a Free Europe” (NCFE)


April 21, 1950

FEC – Informed that Maynard Barnes (Office of Policy Coordination) was  sent to Europe to investigate opening a European office


August 24, 1950

FEC – Certificate of Incorporation amended to widen the roles of the various committees


September 28, 1950

RFE – Approval given for the building of a medium wave transmitter in Holzkirchen, Germany


November 15, 1950

RFE – The aims and objectives of RFE were presented by Poole and Altschul


November 15, 1950

RFE – Board approved the installation of two shortwave transmitters in Biblis, Germany.


December 7, 1950

RFE – Approved the construction of a power installation at Holzkirchen, and a monitoring and receiving station at Schleissheim, Germany


[2] This Chronology is based on data taken from summarized an anonymized FEC document “FEC Board Meetings Highlights, 1949-1976,” without an indication of the precise date of creation. The complete set of original FEC Board minutes is available in the Hoover Library and Archives - RFE/RL Corporate Records. For more check:  http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt4489q9wz/dsc/#ref92   
[3] Lange’s principal mission was to try and rent or otherwise arrange to use existing shortwave transmitter facilities (Comment by Ross Johnson) 

Jan. 1, 1951


February 15, 1951

RFE – Portuguese authorities approved NCFE’s plans for building a second shortwave transmitter  facility

February 15, 1951

RFE - Lang requested additional funds to make RFE operational in Germany by May. Board agreed.

April 12, 1951

RFE – Sociedade Anonima de Radio Rentransmissao (RARET) formed in Portugal to manage construction and running of the transmitter facilities in Portugal

May 17, 1951

FEC – Poole reported the creation of a Free European University in Exile in Strasbourg, France

July 19, 1951

FEC – NCFE office was opened in the La Salle Apartment Hotel in Washington D.C.

August 2, 1951

RFE – Initiation  of Hungarian programming was under study

August 23, 1951

RFE – Hungarian Broadcasting Review Committee submitted a favorable Report initiating Hungarian Broadcasting

October 19, 1951

FEC – “Santa Claus” operation discussed (Sending of penicillin and other drugs by balloons to behind the Iron Curtain). (The plan was never implemented)

December 20, 1951

FEC – Budget for 1951-52 approved, total 11, 191,430 USD. (RFE – 7, 535,895 USD)

Jan. 1, 1952
1952 fec history1


January 3, 1952

RFE – Lang reported on the use of  funds for Polish programming

May 22, 1952

RFE – FEC Board approved the sale of the Lampertheim station to the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia, for 85 000 USD

July 17, 1952

RFE – RFE Budget of total 13,632,432 approved. Discussion over London – Paris program office was raised.

November 25, 1952

RFE – RFE appointed committee to discuss the problems that RFE was having in Germany

Jan. 1, 1950


February 19, 1953

RFE – FEC  Board agreed to send representatives to Turkey to discuss setting up a broadcasting station to reach Bulgaria

March 17, 1953

RFE – RFE discussed negotiations with the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Bonn for the legal recognition of NCFE as a foreign membership corporation

April 21, 1953

RFE – Budget for 1953 – 54. Total operating and capital 18,336,206. (RFE – 11,173,748 USD)

May 19, 1953

RFE – The idea of live broadcasting from Portugal was discussed and dismissed.[1]

July 14, 1953

FEC  – Discussion of Operation Prospero (leaflet campaign for Czechoslovakia)

July 14, 1953

FEC – Board agreed that a Strategy Board should be formed to coordinate all divisions. This group would be a panel of division chiefs who would meet frequently. De Neufville was appointed to serve as executive secretary for both.

October 2, 1953

RFE – Board approved the formation of a panel of 38 American Area Policy Specialists to act as consultants to RFE

[1] Portugal did have a small staff of broadcasters in exile as backup for live broadcasts if/when program transmissions from Munich were interrupted (Comment by Ross Johnson).

Jan. 1, 1954
1954 fec history


February 15, 1954

FEC – approved creation of four new vice-presidential positions. Elected Messrs. Lang, Tyson, Walker Yarrow

March 5, 1954

FEC – NCFE – Decided to change name to Free Europe Committee Inc. (FEC)

September 20, 1954

RFE - Board informed about Turkish project well received by officials. Board approved preparation for the moving of a mobile transmitter to Turkey from Cham, Germany.

September 20, 1954

FEC – Committee of Divisional Directors formed.

Jan. 1, 1955
RFE - Arhitecture


May 24, 1955

FEC – State Department requested that FEC support the newly formed Romanian National Committee in terms of stipends, office costs, and travel costs.

May 24, 1955

FEC – Budget for 1955 – 56. Operating and capital costs of total 14,378,355.00 USD

Jan. 1, 1956
1956 fec history


March 15, 1956

West German Government informally requested an end to the balloon activities, Czech foreign minister Vaclav David complained to UN Secretary General that FEC balloons violated the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944

April 2, 1956

FRE – Granted an additional 5 151 000 USD in funds to open London office and to expand transmitter in Lisbon to counter Soviet jamming.

January 8, 1957

FEC – Number of Directors increased from fifteen to twenty

March 28, 1957

All balloon sites were deactivated.

April 8, 1957

FEC – Since the Hungarian Revolution FEC has worked to consolidate  elements of Hungarian leadership in exile

July 8, 1957

FEC - Budget for 1957-58   16 700 328 USD

July 8, 1957

FEC – balloon operations completely suspended

September 5, 1957

FEC – FEC President expressed interest in expanding FEC activities in Asia, Africa and South America

Jan. 1, 1958
1958 fec history


March 10, 1958

RFE – German Authorities take issue with security clearances of RFE employees.

March 10, 1958

RFE – Program Analyst Group  formed with Mr. Stankovic as Chair, Schell in charge of  the Hungarian branch, Elbot of the Czech branch, Pascaleff in charge of the Bulgarian branch

April 8, 1958

FEC – Board agreed to form West European Advisory Board

July 15, 1958

FEC – Bozz, Allen and Hamilton’s management survey discussed and recommended organizational changes were accepted.

October 3, 1958

RFE – Consideration given to broadcasting to Baltic States due to a reduction of VOA coverage.

October 3, 1958

FEC – Advisory Group  of FEC to survey the need for increased FEC activity in Latin America

March 12, 1959

FEC Board agreed on a change to the FEC Charter  that permitted minor attempts to influence legislation.

April 14, 1959

FEC – West European Advisory Council (WEAC) was approved by the State Department

October 7, 1959

FEC President informed the meeting of a change in financing FEC’s activities. The Crusade For Freedom Funds could be used to fund RFE and now also other FEC activities

March 1, 2018


January 29, 1960

FEC paper “Evaluation of Current FEC Mission” to be distributed for WEAC meeting. The term “liberation” to be down played and “independence” used instead.

January 29, 1960

FEC paper “Reorientation of Exile Support” detailed reorganization plans to provide a more efficient use of the individual exile and exile groups

April 7, 1960

FEC – Office of the Vice-President for Administration was created. C. Rodney Smith was elected to the new post.

June 14, 1960

Certain WEAC members proposed to create a small organization in Europe similar to FEC. It was rejected due to lack of funds 

October 6, 1960

FEC – Utilization of Echo Satellite was possible through the cooperation with the US government. Messages were sent to Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary

October 6, 1960

FEC – African placements discussed

December 8, 1960

RFE – Board proposed the use of the Portugal facilities for broadcast to South America when it is not in use by RFE

January 27, 1961

RFE – Board agreed on the reorganization RFE’s NYC office. The Office of Director was abolished and the post of European Director was placed directly under the President. Other organizational changes were adopted.

June 8, 1961

RFE – Office of the Director of Radio Free Europe was transferred to Munich and the former RFE headquarters in New York eliminated. The RFE programming unit in NYC remained unchanged.

June 8, 1961

FEC – A Policy Group was established in the President’s Office to serve all divisions

November 9, 1961

RFE – 1 020 000 USD allocated for the new transmitter to be located in Portugal, Biblis, Germany or at a new location, due to increased jamming and competition

March 3, 1962

FEC – decision to request additional budgetary funds for four transmitters


RFE – Burks, Deputy Director for Political Affairs in RFE Munich, explained that RFE policy was a strategic operation, i.e. kept contact with the target areas, preserved hope, and functioned as a free channel. RFE was also engaged in a “tactical assault” in a major effort to undermine Communist morale and unity.

August 16, 1962

FEC – Actual total expenditures for 1961-62 were 15 178 184 USD and for 1962-63 budget allotments were 16 929 104 USD.

Jan. 1, 1963
1963 fec history


February 7, 1963

RFE – The four requested transmitters were expected to be in service by Sept. 1963

February 7, 1963

RFE – Richard C. Rowson, Deputy Director of Policy, reported on the recent policy symposium (the purpose of which was to bring together the FEC policy group, RFE policy Board, top experts from NYC and Munich, Munich broadcast Directors and NY desk Chiefs and consultants). (Document to be on display). 

February 7, 1963

RFE – Rowson outlined RFE objectives: to work for greater freedom from Russian interference in internal affairs and to bring about the diffusion of power outside the communist party to new non-communist party elites and other strata of society.

September 11, 1963

RFE – Budget for 1963-64 decreased to 17 360 000 USD from 18 000 000 USD.

January 14, 1965

FEC – Estimated income for 1965-66 budget not to be increased over 17 550 000 USD

June 3, 1965

FEC – J.C. Grew died on May 25, 1965

June 3, 1965

FEC – Budgetary restraints were accepted to accommodate budget ceiling imposed by primary sponsor

October 28, 1965

FEC – Discussion of closing of the London and Vienna offices in response to budget crisis. Finally, Vienna office was closed and London office remained.

October 28, 1965

FEC – Change in name from FEC, Inc. to FE, Inc. was approved (FE)

Jan. 1, 1966
1966 fec history


April 14, 1966.

FE – A Policy Committee of the Board of Directors and Forward Planning Committee were established

June 16, 1966

FE – Whitney H. Shepardson, former President, life time Honorary Member of the Board died on May 29, 1966.

September 8, 1966

RFE –A new budgetary process was established which reduced the possibility of a budget crisis: a five year RFE Capital Plan.

September 28, 1967

FE – Newly created sub-committee of the Boards of FE, Inc. and the RFE Fund reaffirmed.

December 21, 1967

FE – Discussion of the Katzenbach Report to accept proposed transfer of funds for the operations of FE, Inc. and RFE

June 6, 1969

FE – Clay presented a plan for consolidation of the Boards of RFE Fund and FE, Inc.

June 6, 1969

RFE – First Secretary of the Communist Party Husak and the Czech Minister of Interior attacked RFE for counter-revolutionary activities in Czechoslovakia

August 17, 1969

RFE – Advertising Council requested to conduct 1970 RFE national campaign

August 17,1969

RFE – Mission of the Radio was defined as to sustain the spirit of freedom among the peoples of Eastern Europe. It was stated that it could not be accomplished in the short-run but most likely through several generations

August 17,1969

FE – Obtained a review by appropriate authorities of FE’s budget requirements for 1970 with a view of eliminating the contemplated reductions

October 2, 1969

FE – Certification of Incorporation was amended. It provided an increase in the maximum number of Directors from twenty to thirty

October 9, 1969

FE – Five Year Study completed with new budget recommendations

Jan. 1, 1970


April 9, 1970

FE – The Primary Sponsor agreed to fund FE, Inc. for 1972 and 1973 with appropriate increase to compensate for inflation. It led to the lay-off of 30 people from the RFE office in NYC. The primary sponsor agreed to the Program of Modernization

April 9, 1970

FE – Polish Foreign Minister raised the issue of RFE’s license to operate in West Germany to West German delegation. The German Foreign Office appointed an official to evaluate the Polish complains.

April 9, 1970

FE – Jamming resumed in Czechoslovakia while Bulgaria continued to jam heavily. Poland maintained some out of country jamming. There was little or no interference in Hungary and Romania

June 11, 1970

FE – Since 1962 non-radio expenditures were reduced from 5.1 million to 1.4 million USD. Nothing was left but the operation of  the radio and its administrative support

June 11, 1970

FE - Polish complaints sent  to Foreign Office of West Germany resulted in a request to RFE to moderate their broadcast to Poland. The Board expressed concern that the West German authorities might withdraw RFE’s license.

June 11, 1970

FE – Discussion of Senator Case’s announcement regarding RFE’s government relationship. State Department was considering some alternatives to the present funding arrangements while achieving the same purpose

April 4, 1971

FE – The State Department concluded that the best alternative would be the establishment (by the US Congress) of an independent, privately incorporated non-governmental corporation to serve as the funding channel.

April 4, 1971

FE – The German Government indicated its preference that RFE’s support should come through another agency and the connection with the CIA should be terminated.

October 14, 1971

RFE - At Senator Fulbright’s request RFE was investigated  by the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress and by the General Accounting Office

October 12, 1972

RFE – RFE Fund announced that it was approximately 250 000 USD behind the level of contribution reached the year before

October 12, 1972

RFE – Security problems continued in Portugal. RFE had some power outages resulting from industrial sabotage

December 6, 1972

FE – A Presidential Study Commission requested an internal report on RFE and RL

February 8, 1973

FE - Presidential Study Commission’s Report was delivered to White House on Jan. 31. 1973. It recommended the formation of new Board responsible for allocating funds for the radios (BIB – Board for International Broadcasting)

June 14, 1973

FE - It was agreed upon that Radio Liberty should pay for its share of the RFE news service

August 29, 1973

FE - Senator Fulbright’s amendment authorizing financial year 1975 at 50% was defeated in the Senate

October 4, 1973

FE – Congress passed an authorization bill for RFE and RL for the fiscal year

October 4, 1973

FE – The State Department requested the Corporation to submit nominations for the five-man Board for International Broadcasting which was established under the authorization bill

November 29, 1973

FE – The Office of Management and Budget accepted the Radios’ proposal to reduce operation level through the consolidation of RFE and RL

June 20, 1974

FE – Clay reported that the leadership for the new corporation RFE/RL had still not been resolved

October 17, 1974

FE – Plans for consolidation included retaining the two Boards of Directors with separate Chairmen, and appointing a single President for both organizations and a single Field Director. The two corporations (RFE and RL) would maintain their respective broadcasting departments with a single support staff providing technical and administrative services for both.

October 17, 1974

FE – Directors looked at a document in which two Presidents had agreed that they would resign from their respective positions  as of 1.1.1976. Meanwhile Durkee took primary responsibility for carrying out the consolidation plans in Europe, while Sargent took on the same task in the US

October 17, 1974

FE – BIB (Board of International Broadcasting) sent two construction experts to look into the construction plans related to the consolidation in Munich

December 19, 1974

FE – BIB said that the Radios’ consolidation program had not been going fast enough and that it may not satisfy Congress

December 19, 1974

FE – BIB sent a letter to Senator Tummey (published in Congressional Record), which - according to Durkee - contained false and seriously misleading statements together with unsubstantiated criticism of the Radios’